About Improv Planet

  • At Improv Planet we study the pathways of musicianship that led to the remarkable fluency of spontaneous invention among 18th and 19th century musicians. We learn to improvise music in historic styles.

  • Improv Planet’s members come from every inhabited continent and include seasoned concert artists, conservatory faculty and students, members of international orchestras, private piano teachers, avid amateurs, retired hobbyists, young people, and more.

  • Improv Planet offers instruction in two different formats: by monthly membership, and by single “stand-alone” classes.

  • The stand-alone classes cover specific topics in depth, and involve about the same amount of work as a one-semester college-level course.

  • Monthly memberships provide access to the world’s largest library of tutorial videos in historic improvisation. And this collection is constantly growing: each month we put out two to three hours of new video: tutorials, live performance of improvisations, Q&A, and the fun, engaging Improv Challenge.

  • Monthly memberships are available on three levels: Amateur, Pro, and Access.

  • The Amateur level requires modest keyboard skills and introductory knowledge of music theory, but still provides instruction in improvising real music using real techniques. Each month Amateur includes two new tutorials, two performance videos (improvisations, usually from live concerts), the Ask Me Anything Q&A, and the Improv Challenge.

  • The Pro level is for professional performers, conservatory faculty and students, and those ready for rigorous engagement with the theoretical and performance ideas that lie behind improvisation. Pro includes all content from Amateur as well as two additional tutorials and a monthly “breakdown” video, giving an inside-the-workshop look at specific improvised performances.

  • The Access level includes all the above, with access to all new content one week before the official release date.

Options for Improvisers

Improvisers may take a "stand-alone" course or subscribe as monthly members. Membership is available at three levels: Amateur, Pro, and Access.

  • NEW! “19th Century Preluding” reveals the Romantic-era art of performing improvised introductions to written piano compositions, and prepares the learner to bring this capability to the stage. Course instructor John Mortensen is internationally recognized as a concert improviser and teacher. The lessons begin by closely examining original sources including Czerny, Kollmann, Corri, Hummel, and Clara Schumann. Then the learner is invited into Mortensen’s “workshop” to watch his process as he develops preludes on familiar and unknown works from the repertoire. At the conclusion of the course, each student may submit a video performance of preluding and receive personal written commentary from Dr. Mortensen.

  • The Introduction to Historic Improvisation course consists of 25 lessons (over seven hours of instruction) introducing the basics of historic improvisation. The course was designed as college-level and will require many hours of practice. The intro course has a one-time cost, not a recurring monthly membership fee.

  • The Amateur level includes two new amateur tutorials, two new performance videos, a new Ask Me Anything, and a new Improv Challenge every month PLUS instant access to all previous videos in these categories (over 150). Also included: access to the Improv Planet Discussion Forum, updates on Dr. Mortensen's books, recordings, touring, and masterclasses.

  • The Pro level includes everything from the Amateur level PLUS two new Pro tutorials every month, the monthly "How I Did It" Improv Breakdown, and instant access to all previous videos in these categories (over 250).

  • The Access level includes everything from the Amateur and Pro levels, plus early access to all content one week prior to its regular publication.

Student Reviews

5 star rating

Historic Improvisation

Christoph Mutter

Exzellent Staff and brillant Teaching. No doubt a milestone in music education to forget the tyranny of playing the repertoire again and again and loose joy ...

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Exzellent Staff and brillant Teaching. No doubt a milestone in music education to forget the tyranny of playing the repertoire again and again and loose joy on classical music.

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5 star rating

killer course!

Luigi P

There's nothing that Mr Mortensen does that is not highly instructive, but this course is simply killer. You won't find an online course like this on the int...

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There's nothing that Mr Mortensen does that is not highly instructive, but this course is simply killer. You won't find an online course like this on the internet, and not even offline. In this course Mr Mortensen goes even beyond the already killer 18th century improvisation realm, and enters the 19th century without any weak excuses! ANY classical musicians will benefit from this mind opening course, but also non classical (I am both!). A wealth of illustrious and eminent musical traditions are explored, CPE Bach to Clara Schumann and everything in between! Quite frankly this material is very modestly priced....do not thing for a second whether it's worth 59 bucks. It's worth at least 4 times as much.

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5 star rating

another SMASHING course from Dr. Mortensen!

Luigi P

I frankly bought all the courses by Dr. Mortensen, they are amazing! I wonder what someone like Valentina Lisitsa would be able to do with such a course! But...

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I frankly bought all the courses by Dr. Mortensen, they are amazing! I wonder what someone like Valentina Lisitsa would be able to do with such a course! But even if I'll never be Lisitsa, these courses are truly mind opening, there's nothing else like that around and frankly every other piano course I see on known websites by top educators, are starting to look tired compared to the extremely interesting system taught by Dr. Mortensen. And this was the very same system that top notch musicians were learning a long time ago. This amazingly interesting world must be rescued from the obscurity and oblivion it was falling into, which is exactly what these courses do. I mean, wasn't that Martini guy the same teacher who taught MOZART? It can't be a coincidence that 200 years ago music teachers were creating master musicians, and today either mediocre ones, or at best, competent or highly competent PERFORMERS. I still remember how when I wanted to be a musician was to create my own music, not playing music by others. Again, it is always edifying to learn a new Bach piece, but I think it is limiting, and BORING, to play only music written by others!

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5 star rating

Absolutely amazing course!

Saxon Fullwood

This course is perfect in every way. I have been playing pieces from the repertoire for years and was beginning to get bored of it, but this course has reki...

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This course is perfect in every way. I have been playing pieces from the repertoire for years and was beginning to get bored of it, but this course has rekindled my love for piano and keyboard music. I was a complete beginner to improvising, but after the course, it felt easy. It also gets you used to the structure of music which makes memorising pieces from the repertoire much faster and easier. Highly recommend!

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Professor

John Mortensen

Dr. John Mortensen is a leader in the international revival of historic keyboard improvisation. Appearing frequently as concert artist, masterclass teacher, and academic lecturer in America and Europe, he is noted for his ability to improvise entire concerts. He is the author of "The Pianist's Guide to Historic Improvisation" (Oxford University Press), the world's best-selling book in the field of historic keyboard improvisation studies. His new book "Improvising Fugue" will be published in 2022 with Oxford University Press. A Steinway Artist and university music professor, he is sponsored by the US State Department's Fulbright Global Scholar program as an artistic ambassador on behalf of the American people.

Improvising in Concert

Royal Academy of Music - Aarhus, Denmark